Dentures have come a long way since George Washington’s infamous pair of false teeth. Advances in dental care have made modern-day dentures much more comfortable, efficient, and attractive than they were just a decade or two ago. They are also a lot more durable, which makes the transition to wearing dentures a lot more palatable, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Still, even with the many improvements that have been made, most people have denture questions. They wonder about denture prices, denture financing, denture cleaning, denture repair, and even alternatives to dentures.
That’s why we put together this in-depth guide to dentures. We get a lot of people in our Glendale, AZ office asking these questions and more.
In simplest terms, dentures are a set of false teeth. They can be a full or partial set of teeth and soft tissue structure, depending on the person’s needs.
These artificial teeth are usually made from acrylic resin, similar to plastic, and metal. They are held in place by suction that keeps the dentures tight against the gums, although sometimes an adhesive is used to keep them from moving.
Many patients find themselves confused about who needs dentures. They think of dentures as something for people in their 80s or 90s. But the truth is that you might need dentures a whole lot sooner.
The need is not dependent on your age, but on the condition of your teeth. Needing dentures is fairly common among those over age 40. According to a 2009 survey by Fixodent, a denture adhesive, 19 percent of American women over age 40 wear dentures. And by 2020, 37.9 million people will have dentures.
Why would you need dentures? Reasons for getting them can range from necessity to cosmetic desires. Here are just a few things that spur people to get dentures:
You will need to consult with your dentist on whether dentures are the right choice for you and whether you will need a full or partial set.
One of the most common questions we hear from our Glendale-area patients is how long does denture fitting take? Many people are looking for single-day dentures or dentures while you wait.
That’s a great idea in theory, but the truth is that it takes time to make a high-quality set of dentures. You do not want to skip any of the steps to fitting and adjusting the dentures, or they may slip in your mouth.
A good dentures dentist can produce a high-quality pair in three to five appointments, but it could take up to eight. Any fewer appointments may result in a lower-quality product that will need to be replaced more quickly. That leads to greater costs in the long run, and they may not be covered by your dental insurance.
It could also take longer to get your dentures made if you need additional surgery on your mouth, such as alveoloplasty, which gets the alveolar ridges ready for dentures. Remember, patience is important as the entire denture process takes a minimum of eight weeks.
Denture pricing is also a very big concern for most people. They have two main questions:
1. How much do dentures cost?
2. Are dentures covered by insurance?
It’s difficult to set one price for dentures. As with any dental procedure, the cost can go up and down depending on the patient and his or her dental history. For instance, if the dentist runs into complications such as a tooth that needs to be extracted or periodontal disease that must be treated, this can not only make the process take longer but also add to the expense.
All that said, generally dentures cost between $1,000 and $3,000. At AZ Family Dental, the cost for dentures usually runs below $2,000.
The good news is that dental insurance does cover dentures in many cases. Most insurance companies are very good about paying for dentures, though they do set reasonable limits on how often they will pay for them. It’s similar to car insurance: If you keep getting in accidents, your insurance company will eventually deny your claims. If you keep breaking or losing your dentures, insurance won’t keep paying over and over.
Once you have been fitted for your dentures and figured out how to pay for them, the next step is adjusting to your new teeth. This is not easy. It’s what leads people to say dentures are painful, though that’s not true as a general rule.
Keep in mind, it’s completely normal to find the process of adjusting to your new dentures challenging. Here are a few common problems new denture wearers might experience:
Problem: Your dentures slip. This is most common if you smile, laugh, sneeze or cough.
Solution: Gently bite on your dentures, then swallow. This will move them back into place.
Problem: Your dentures feel loose. The new teeth may be awkward for the first few weeks, and you may get the feeling they are about to fall out. This will lessen as your cheek and tongue muscles become accustomed to the dentures and learn to keep them in place.
Solution: You can use a bit of denture adhesive to hold the false teeth in place.
Problem: You’re experiencing denture irritation. Any time you add a foreign object to your mouth, you are going to have a bit of pain. Again, this is normal. It will take about a month for your tongue, gums, and insides of your cheeks to adjust to the new shapes, but then the irritation will go away.
Solution: Gargle with salt water to clean out the irritated areas. You can take a temporary pain reliever if the pain is really bad, but that may be a sign your dentures are not fitting properly and you should contact a dentist.
Problem: You are having trouble talking. Dentures require an adjustment in the way you talk. You may notice your dentures clicking while you talk or you could have trouble saying certain words.
Solution: Speak slowly to avoid the clicking. Also, practice saying words that are giving you trouble.
Problem: You are having difficulty eating. It’s not easy to relearn how to eat with your new teeth. You may feel as though your dentures are moving as you eat.
Solution: Stick with soft foods that do not require a lot of chewing. When you do chew, make sure you use the left and right sides of your mouth, to avoid movement of your dentures.
Problem: Change in saliva production. When you take a certain medication, you may find yourself producing less saliva, which can prompt sore spots under your dentures. Or, conversely, you may discover you are producing a lot of saliva when you first start wearing your dentures.
Solution: You can talk to your doctor about using a different medication, if possible. For the increases saliva production, just wait it out. It usually goes away shortly.
All of these problems should start to lessen within the first month. However, if you still find you are experiencing denture discomfort, contact your dentist. You may need to get denture adjustments to find a better fit, and a high-quality denture doctor will understand that need. At AZ Family Dental, for example, we provide denture adjustments during the first six months after they have been made.
Do dentures ever need to be replaced? No dentures have a lifetime warranty, but the answer to this question is very specific to the patient. The longer you have your dentures, the more likely they will need to be replaced.
Dentures can last for up to a decade, but they will need to be replaced much sooner if you do not take proper care of them, by doing the following:
Denture care is extremely important. Next we’ll go into more detailed denture tips to help you care for yours.
There are three major parts to denture maintenance: cleaning, handling, and adjustment.
Your dentures require regular cleaning, just like your natural teeth. Regular cleaning helps eliminate germs and smells that cling to dentures; it also helps keep your mouth healthy.
|Denture Cleaning Tips|
|DO clean your dentures daily.|
|DON’T use toothpaste to clean them. Though you should continue to brush your gums and any remaining teeth with toothpaste, there are cleaners made specifically for dentures.|
|DO use denture tablets such as Effervescent to clean your false teeth.|
|DON’T use abrasive cleaning products on your dentures, even if you have stubborn stains.|
|DO brush your dentures daily with a soft toothbrush specifically designed for dentures.|
|DON’T forget to rinse your dentures off following every meal or snack.|
|DO try an ultrasonic cleaner for a deeper clean, though remember this does not take the place of daily brushing.|
|DON’T use bleach as a denture whitener, as it can whiten the pink parts of the dentures.|
Just as teeth can stain, dentures, too, can stain after long-term wear. Many patients ask about denture whitening, but that service is not available at AZ Family Dental. We can polish your dentures to remove staining.
However, if you have deep and permanent stains on your dentures, and you have had them for years, we recommend getting new ones instead.
Handling: How to Care for Dentures
Like any delicate piece of equipment, dentures should be handled with care. That goes beyond keeping them away from your grandkids or your pets.
Here are a few guidelines for handling your dentures:
How to Adjust Dentures
When your dentures are bothering you or you feel them slipping, it may be tempting to try to adjust them yourself. After all, it only takes a quick tweak to push something back in place. But you should never try to adjust your dentures yourself.
Even the smallest of tweaks can result in a different, potentially poor fit. Dentures are designed based on minute measurements. Contact your dentist if you think your dentures need to be adjusted, and let a professional decide what needs to be done. Otherwise you risk damaging your dentures.
Dentures are not for everyone. Although you may have lost some teeth or experienced major mouth trauma, that does not necessarily mean you are a candidate for dentures.
Here’s a look at some denture alternatives you may want to explore if you decide they’re not for you, whether due to price or personal preference.
Alternative: Dental Implants
The big difference between dentures and dental implants is the latter are not removable. They offer replacement for the root of the tooth, and replacement teeth are added on top. Some people prefer this alternative because they are more permanent and more comfortable than dentures. However, they are also much more expensive and may not be covered by insurance, depending on your dental history.
Some people prefer not to have all of their teeth removed, which can sometimes lead to bone loss in the jaw. Instead, they opt for overdentures, which are fitted on top of natural teeth.
Some people feel self-conscious about their dentures when they begin to wear them. They worry others will see their false teeth and judge them. Or they are concerned their dentures will move or even pop out of place while they are talking, causing embarrassment.
These worries are perfectly natural. Rest assured, however, your dentures will not make you stand out or attract unwanted attention. Dentures are so well made these days that it can be hard to tell you are wearing them. And they are also fairly common. No one will think less of you for having dentures. When you let people in on your secret, you may even discover that a friend or family member who you thought had perfect chompers is actually a dentures wearer as well.
Finally, there are questions we often hear from new patients who have just gotten dentures. Here’s a sampling, along with the answers.
Question: Are dentures a replacement for natural teeth?
Answer: No. We tell our patients dentures are a replacement for no teeth, not a replacement for natural teeth. You will notice some decreased efficiency in your chewing, but you will get used to it over time.
Question: Is denture adhesive safe?
Answer: Used in moderation, denture adhesive is perfectly safe. However, some adhesives include zinc, and an excess of zinc in the body can result in nerve damage. Make sure you use very small amounts of denture adhesive and do not use it when you are taking dietary supplements that include zinc.
Question: Where do I find denture care instructions?
Answer: Your dentist will give you tips on care. You can also talk to friends or family members with dentures or consult websites recommended by your dentist.
Question: Are dentures only for seniors?
Answer: No. Others can also use dentures, and they are so well made these days that no one has to know you have dentures if you feel embarrassed about it.
Now that you know more about dentures, you may be ready to get a pair yourself. Make an appointment with your dentist to get started in this process.
If you live in the Glendale or Phoenix area, contact AZ Family Dental today to set up your denture consultation.